How to know where you are on the Business Process Management (BPM) maturity curve

We all know that BPM is an uncommon thing, and difficult to pigeonhole: it’s partly an approach to managing a business ("management by business process", if you like); partly an approach to managing business processes through various changes and lifecycle stages ("management of business processes"); and partly a way of using software to create operational ‘process applications’ that distribute, co-ordinate and monitor work in line with the intent of your management system.

It’s not surprising, then, to see that different organisations pursue BPM initiatives from different perspectives. Some approach it as an agile application development approach first and foremost; others see it as a way to ‘operationalise’ business process improvements discovered through Lean or Six Sigma projects; others see it as a way to integrate governance controls into day-to-day operations – and so on.

Regardless of the approach you take, though, BPM is inextricable from organisational change to some degree. And so with BPM, just as with other change initiatives, it’s not enough to simply get your technology choices and architectural approach right; you also have to consider strategy, communication, governance, and broader skills issues. No matter what starting position you take.

At MWD Advisors we’ve spent a lot of time and effort trying to find out just how organisations achieve maturity in these multiple dimensions; and for some time now we’ve been offering a free online capability benchmarking tool to enable organisations like yours find out where they stand, too.

What I love about our free benchmarking tool is that by working through the process you don’t just get a sense of how you compare to other organisations in your geography, industry and size category; you also get a free personalised action plan that highlights the actions you’ll need to take if you want to improve your maturity. So this tool isn’t just about learning where you are; it’s also a tool for learning more about how to get to where you want to go. And did I mention that it’s free…?

We’re delighted to know that people find real value in the benchmark tool. Here’s what one member of our benchmark community said recently:

"When our Process Improvement Team set out to benchmark ourselves against the industry, we imagined the effort to be extremely difficult and time-consuming. So imagine our surprise when we stumbled across a tool that replicated the effort we were about to produce manually. [The tool] is not only easy to use – the output is well designed, immediate and meaningful." - Tammie Knuff, Business Process Manager, ADP Dealer Services

We’ve so far collected well over 100 benchmarks and the results are very clear; overall the average level of maturity is perhaps best described as ‘moderate’. Obviously there are some very mature organisations, but the general patterns points to a lot of work still needing to be done.

At the BPM Summit Europe in Amsterdam in late June, I’ll be presenting a session specifically based around the findings we’ve gathered from running this free benchmark service – so if you’re attending the conference, why not work through your own benchmark, and see how you fit in when we meet in Amsterdam?